FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Some works of fiction do not have their names translated when released in a foreign market. This seem to be particularly common with French and German films, for some reason. For anime series, this is rampant in fan-translations, which can be quite frustrating for those lacking a smattering of Gratuitous Japanese.

Just to be clear, this trope does not apply in the following cases:

  1. The title is a proper noun, such as Amelie or Ros na Rún
  2. The title is nonsense or a made-up word, such as Azumanga Daioh
  3. The title is already in a foreign language, such as "La Belle Dame sans Merci"
  4. The title is translated, but fans use the original title anyway; for example, fans of Ceres Celestial Legend tend to refer to the show as Ayashi no Ceres.
Examples of Untranslated Title include:


Anime

  • Ai Yori Aoshi (literally "Bluer than Indigo"; occasionally with the slogan "True Blue Love" -- see Meaningful Name for why)
  • Gurren Lagann, which literally means "Crimson Lotus Spiral Face" so it's no wonder it wasn't translated. Although it was shortened from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ("Heaven Piercing Crimson Lotus Spiral Face")
  • Hikaru no Go ("Hikaru's Go")
  • Ikki Tousen (literally, "the strength of a thousand in a single breath")
  • Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu (see the show's page for an attempt to untangle the punny title; some releases shorten it down to Hale+Guu)
  • Kannazuki no Miko ("Shrine Maiden of the Godless Month [October]";The original Geneon release sometimes added the very loosely equivalent subtitle "Destiny of Shrine Maiden", though the Sentai re-release used the English title.)
  • Kodocha (left as the shortened form of the Japanese title "Kodomo no Omocha," rather than using a translation like "Child's Toy")
  • Koi Kaze ("Love Wind")
  • Kyou Kara Maou ("Demon King as of Today")
  • Mai-HiME & Mai-Otome are partial cases of this. While the "Mai" parts of the title are changed to the English "My" (which may have been intended puns to begin with), the words Hime (princess) and Otome (maiden) are left alone.
  • Mushishi -- while "mushi" is a proper term in the context of the series, the "shi" part meaning "user" or "master" is left untranslated.
  • Otogi Zoshi
  • Rurouni Kenshin (Although the OVAs and The Movie were released in the US as Samurai X)
  • Sakura Taisen, depending on which piece of the franchise and which company has it.
    • Though the "Taisen" part is sometimes rendered as "Wars", the "Sakura" part is never translated.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, with the subtitle The Power of Negative Thinking added by Del Ray to explain the concept to readers of the manga.
  • Shakugan no Shana ("Burning-Eyes Shana")
  • Tenchi Muyo! (Sometimes rendered as "No Need for Tenchi," though apparently has an alternate meaning of "this end up," as on boxes and such.)
  • Tenjho Tenge ("Heaven and Earth")
  • Tsukihime (this word (meaning "Moon Princess") is always left alone, but the anime adds the descriptor Shingetsutan, which gets translated as "Lunar Legend")
  • Urusei Yatsura, though this probably due to confusion on how to translate it. The short-lived attempt at an English dub called it Those Obnoxious Aliens.
  • Utawarerumono (an interesting case, as ADV was originally planning on re-titling it "Shadow Warrior Chronicles," until fandom/Internet outcry caused them to reverse the decision)
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
  • Yu Yu Hakusho - The Central Park Media dub of the first movie used the title Poltergeist Report, while the FUNimation dub of the series was subtitled Ghost Files, both which are approximations of the original Japanese title.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!! (Literally, "King of Games")

Film

  • Das Boot: The original (dubbed) release to theaters and pay-TV used the translated title "The Boat". Video releases of the longer and subtitled versions use the title untranslated (not that it's terribly hard to figure out).
  • Au Revoir, Les Enfants
  • Un Chien Andalou
  • Desparus
  • Ikiru
  • El Mariachi
  • Ran
  • La Dolce Vita
  • La Haine
  • La Strada
  • El Topo
  • Baise Moi (the English release added "Rape Me" as a subtitle, which is a Bowdlerised translation)
  • La Cage Aux Folles; the translation of this title, The Birdcage, was used by the American remake.
  • Amores Perros (IMDB lists Love's a Bitch as an international alternate title, but the Untranslated Title was definitely used for the US theatrical release)
    • Fortunately so: while "Love's a Bitch" is a close approximation in English, the original title also plays on the homonym "Amor es perros" (meaning "Love is dogs"), which would otherwise be lost.
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien
  • Nearly every film from the USA is left with an untranslated title in Germany. It is ridiculous. It is not even funny!
  • The original Japanese versions of The Ring and The Grudge were released with untranslated titles in America (Ringu and Ju-on) in order to distinguish them from their American remakes.
  • Acción Mutante
  • Santa Sangre
  • Dodes'ka-den

Literature

  • Das Kapital, though it is known as Le Capital in French editions
    • Considering the only thing to translate is 'das' to 'the'(or just drop it) and Xtreme Kool Letterz, does it really count?
  • Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones
  • Mein Kampf. In a few other languages, it does change, however.
  • Les Misérables
  • Strictly speaking, The Iliad means 'A Tale of Ilium (Troy)' and is only one of many stories woven around the Trojan War.
    • This frequently occurs to works above a certain age, though it may be difficult to draw the line between 'untranslated title' and 'naturalised title.' Ovid's Heroides, Amores, and Metamorphoses stand as a case in point. Others, such as Xenophon's Anabasis are known by multiple titles, including 'The Persian Expedition', 'The March of the Ten Thousand', and 'The March Upcountry'.
  • Similarly, the Nibelungenlied is 'The Song of the Nibelungs'.
  • Natsume Soseki's Kokoro usually has the title left as-is in modern English printings, though it has occasionally been given the (somewhat clunky) translation of "The Heart of Things".
    • Bonus points for the fact that the novel opens with the sentence, "I always called him Sensei." Considering the amount of times the word appears in the novel, it's a damn good thing sensei is one of the few Japanese words the average English-speaker can recognize.
  • A la recherche du temps perdu is often given untranslated. Partly because it was translated as Remembrance Of Things Past instead of In Search Of Lost Time for a while, and partly because if you're going to read Proust, you might as well be pretentious about it.
  • Emile Zola's novel of poverty and alcoholism L'Assommoir is most often known by its original title, which is an untranslatable French play on words. Assommoir was an old slang term for a low-class bar, derived from assommer, to knock out or stun; the nearest rendition in English might be "place to get hammered."
  • Works by certain ancient Greek philosophers are frequently translated to Latin but no further. For example, Aristotle's Peri Psyches is usually referred to by English speakers as De Anima (the English would be something like "About the Soul").
  • Snorri Sturluson's history of the kings of Norway is frequently called Heimskringla, never "The Circle of the Earth".
  • The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun is almost always given that title when translated into a European language, as the original Arabic title means "The Introduction". The book is actually a sophisticated early (14th century) work on sociology, political science, and the theory of history; it gets its title because it is supposed to be an introduction to a very long history of North Africa (or rather history of the world, with a special focus on North Africa). Since this history, while very good, is only of interest to Arab historians and Arabists, the use of the foreign title is presumably because people would get very confused by a book simply called The Introduction ("If this is the introduction, where's the rest of it?").
    • As an aside, Arabic avoids the problem through Popcultural Osmosis: Everyone's heard of Ibn Khaldun's Introduction, so they just publish it with that title.

Live Action TV

  • Seacht - the title is Irish for seven, but when it was shown on The BBC, they kept the original title (and pronounced it horribly).

Music

  • Some popular songs translated into English left an Untranslated Title in their lyrics:
    • "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"
    • "Besame Mucho"
    • "La Vie En Rose"
    • "99 Luftballoons"

Theater

  • This is almost more common than not for operas, at least the ones not named after a character. About half of these still refer to a character in some way. Some of the least often translated titles include:
    • La Boheme
    • Cavalleria rusticana
    • Cosi fan tutte
    • Die Fledermaus (which was presented four times on Broadway in the first half of the 20th century, each time under a Completely Different Title)
    • Der Freischütz
    • La gioconda
    • Der Rosenkavalier
    • La traviata
    • Il trovatore
    • At least at one time, The Golden Cockerel was usually known as Le coq d'or, despite being a Russian opera.

Video Games

  • Darius Gaiden
  • Yume Nikki
  • Kakuto Chojin - Which means the "Fighting Superhuman"
  • Katamari Damacy
  • Onimusha - The subtitle for the first game, Demon Warlords, is a rough approximation of the main title.
  • Shin Megami Tensei, though the subtitle is usually translated
  • Super Robot Taisen - The word "Taisen" means "Wars", but was left untranslated due to copyright issues with the unrelated TV show Robot Wars
  • Makai Kingdom (Nippon Ichi Software titles translate Makai as "The Netherworld")
  • Ninja Gaiden is a semi-aversion of this trope, as the series was originally titled Ninja Ryukenden ("Ninja Dragon Sword Legend") in Japan. The American title of Ninja Gaiden is actually an example of Gratuitous Japanese, although the newer X Box games in the series were released under the Ninja Gaiden name in Japan.
  • Kenseiden (which translates loosely as "Sword Master Legend")
  • Okami (and by extention Okamiden), to keep the double meaning of the title.
  • Solatorobo ("Sky and Robot"), though the subtitle was changed from Sora kara CODA e to Red the Hunter.
  • Ni no Kuni ("Another World") seems to be headed in this direction, though it doesn't seem finalized yet.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.